It was so popular last year that we decided to do it again! Join us this holiday season as we introduce you to twelve of our favourite podcasts in the 12 Days of Podmas.
Terence Raymond Alan Hancock – or ‘Terry’, for short – is a 30 year old aspiring writer, whose greatest success is in not actually being successful. However, Lady Luck appears to be smiling on Terry, when he gets a call summoning him to the offices of a London lawyer. Has a bidding war broken out for his latest manuscript?
Alas, no: fate takes a funny turn. It transpires Terry’s late mother had a codicil in her will, which reveals that Terry’s grandfather, whom he never knew, was in fact one of the nation’s most beloved comedy stars. A further revelation from the codicil comes in the form of a rather unexpected inheritance, comprising his grandfather’s former house in East Cheam. The address? 23 Railway Cuttings.
However, one significant hurdle stands in Terry’s way – an unwanted occupant of what should be a vacant property: Sigmund ‘Sig’ James. Just when it seems all hope is lost of Terry being able to take up his ancestral seat, he finds that the opportunity opens up to use some leverage and let him strike an accord with his new – and somewhat unlikely – co-tenant of what has become Hancock’s Half House.
The original Hancock’s Half Hour by writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson revolutionised British comedy, and also made leading man Tony Hancock into a household name. Starting out on radio in 1954, a television version kicked off in 1956. It seems appropriate that this new version – a continuation, as opposed to a remake or reboot – goes back to its progenitor’s audio roots, with an initial six-part run being made available as a podcast.
Hancock’s Half House is co-written by Spike Breakwell and Simon Hardeman, with the latter playing Terry Hancock, and Breakwell taking on the role of Sig James, along with pretty much all of the other parts going, including a neighbour who sounds remarkably like Kenneth Williams’ ‘Snide’ character. In addition to composing the theme tune as well as his other varied duties, Hardeman is also founder of Inshore Madman Productions, the company behind this brand new take on an old classic.
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The format stays faithful to the original basic set-up, with Terry being all full of bluster and self-importance, tilting at windmills and railing against the vagaries of contemporary life. He also finds himself falling foul of the various schemes and cons being run beneath his very nose by the devious Sig. It seems that the apple has definitely not fallen too far from the Hancock family tree, with Terry certainly sharing a lot of his grandad’s traits and foibles.
Taking on an iconic programme like this, by two legendary scribes and showcasing an equally renowned star, is quite a risky proposition indeed. Luckily, Breakwell and Hardeman have managed to pull off a daunting and seemingly almost impossible feat, by honouring what went before, while also serving up something genuinely funny and entertaining at the same time. Stone me: this could – and should – run and run.
The first season of Hancock’s Half House is available now from the series’ website.